Bon Vivant – a sociable person who has cultivated and refined tastes especially with respect to food and drink

It had never occurred to her before.
She watched her father carelessly polish the buttery crab meat from the corners of his mouth – 40% of which had remained in the shells, the wine he would try and pour in his glass only to notice it was closed and thus beckoning the assistance of Amelia just to uncork the bottle.
Her father kept moving with the same pattern she’d seen every dinner time despite the words of the magistrate, whose baritone voice much resembled her father’s:
“You should have accepted that” – to that her father kept on gulping wine and seafood, but with the trepidation, now she noticed, of someone consuming his last supper.

Heterodox – contrary to or different from an acknowledged standard, a traditional form, or an established religion

Her mother smacked her hand still holding the seared sea scallop. This returned into the plate violently, splashing the key lime vinaigrette onto her white blouse.

“Mom!” she protested.

“I told you to use a knife and fork” her mother uttered while skewering a fish morsel with a prong.

Armistice: temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents

He glimpsed her figure from the canape side of the table. He had been stopped by the new Associate professor to discuss the lecture notes for History on Medieval Literature.

But he was looking at the red dress she was wearing. They bought it together a couple of years back in Panama, it had a deep neckline encrusted with irregular pearls. It slid slightly across her small breasts as she told a story to a gathering around her, who burst into laughter at the end of it.

She caught his sight – he stood next to the professor with his fists descending along his suite, recalling her mouth screaming, her watery eyes from earlier that afternoon.

She smiled at him. And it took a couple of seconds to him to smile back.

Sorrow

I always complain.

In general, I tend to complain a lot. I came up with the understanding, or rather, the best way of justifying myself by saying that the feeling of sadness – preferably referred to as sorrow, melancholy, grief, is the most noble feeling, and that any worthy piece of art has been created by troubled souls.

Misery, is another synonym for it.

Not that I like making my boyfriend assisting at the too-many episodes of me sobbing profoundly after the lady at the cobbler shop had the unfortunate role of informing me that my leather boots could not be repaired. But at the same time, I don’t know how to prevent this from happening.

And besides raising an important issue with this little iconic scene, that is hormones are real for however much we try to avoid talking about them, or worse, suppressing their functions with pills – it also reminds me of the many times I have been coming up with the harsh conclusion of how difficult I find to live in a different country, i.e. Belgium.

Like here and here.

It came out in those posts, and during the conversations with people who more or less share  my point of view, that it’s been (it is!) very difficult for me to adjust to the behavior and personality usually to be found in Belgians. Like when they don’t let you get out the carriage before getting on the train; when they would pay taxes just because “it’s fair” (I am Italian, you should have a much more solid argument than that); when they never say “hi” and “goodbye” in social situations with limited space, like doctors’ waiting rooms, or elevators. When I raised the last point to a lady here, she admitted she took the habit of saluting after living in Panama. The first times she saw people doing that her reaction was to ask herself whether they actually just knew each other.

This whole strange sense of individuality, sometimes selfishness, together with a very clear perspective of what is the common value, always startles me.

Kind of French, but yet colder: almost Dutch, but less loud. My friends and family in Italy would always refer to me as the one that moved “to the north”. Mostly justified by the lower temperatures and bigger clouds, by which people are effected consequently Despite this parallel being exquisitely synaesthetic, it never really satisfied me the description of Belgians – or Germans, Norwegians, Danish – just being “colder”.

But I know that would feel more at ease hanging out with an Argentinian who was born on the other side of the Ocean, rather than with a Belgian. Don’t get me wrong here: I just feel that we would understand each other better, and not only because Argentina is full of Italians – there are so many here too, as Belgians love eating spaghetti bolognaise.

Some nights ago I attended a Belgian wedding. It’s not the first one I’ve seen here, either as a guest or a server – my boyfriend manages an Irish pub and there have been a few there already. And yet, it’s still strange to me that people choose to have their wedding reception in a pub surrounded by strangers; that they would choose burgers as their dinner; that the thing would last maybe 2 hours and a couple handshakes; or that the bride and the groom wouldn’t get utterly drunk, or smashed, as my boyfriend would say.

And yet, that night something more happened.

The longer I saw that couple – her gorgeous embroidered dress, the shy smile on the face of him – the guests politely asking for orange juice rather than the cava they were offered, the more I saw them all smiling, chatting, joking around with their kids, taking pictures and making some games I could not understand entirely as I still don’t master the language enough – who am I kidding, I don’t have it at all – I noticed that each one of them was connected to the other, they were all living there, that moment, and nobody, and I mean nobody was interacting with a screen and the very distorted image of themselves, the people not there, and the whole world it offers.

I hadn’t fully realized this until I was tidying up the table – I rightfully was too busy before that – and my thoughts went to the approaching wedding me and my boyfriend are going to in Italy, in September, of my cousin. I thought about the very close relatives of my family, especially the ladies, even my mother, flooding their outlets on the fabricated-world online with the best representation their cameras are able to give of their lives. I’ve seen them doing that plenty already; during holidays, dinners at restaurant; times spent together. I haven’t seen many Belgians instead having their meals with their faces stuck to their phones. And I don’t know from where they take all the social confidence that it requires these days, but oh God if I love that.

And if it’s true that Belgians and Italians are so desperately different, the question now is who’s right on what here?

I don’t think I can give this question an answer – nor do I want to, but I am glad that I can see a bit clearer sometimes, and appreciate the cues my surrounding is giving me in the midst of what I consider being a sad moment of my life. Or I should say, a sorrowful one.

 

Yours forever,

Hungerness